Roundtable’s William C. Rudin Discusses Public Policies to Strengthen CRE and the Economy

Real Estate Roundtable Chairman Emeritus (2015-2018) William C. Rudin (Co-Executive Chairman, Rudin)

Real Estate Roundtable Chairman Emeritus (2015-2018) William C. Rudin (Co-Executive Chairman, Rudin) discussed commercial real estate conditions on CNBC’s Squawk Box this morning, emphasizing how public policies could help the industry meet significant challenges as it faces a wave of looming maturities in a high-interest rate environment.

Federal Action Needed

  • Rudin noted that unless a property owner has a top-tier asset with a stable long-term lease, liquidity is a major issue. “The federal government and the Federal Reserve have to keep giving the banks flexibility to be able to restructure some of the loans.” (Watch Rudin’s comments)
  • Rudin added, “The federal government should support legislation to help incentivize owners to convert obsolete office buildings to residential—and the federal government should be getting their employees back into the office space.” (Entire Rudin interview)
  • Rudin referenced recent testimony by Roundtable President and CEO Jeffrey DeBoer that addressed these issues during a House subcommitteeon the “Health of the Commercial Real Estate Markets and Removing Regulatory Hurdles to Ensure Continued Strength.” (Roundtable Weekly, May 3 and video of DeBoer’s testimony)

Roundtable Recommendations

Roundtable President and CEO Jeffrey DeBoer
  • The Roundtable’s testimony last week addressed a wide swath of concerns for owners, lenders, and local communities. DeBoer discussed specific issues with House policymakers, including market liquidity, the state of the office sector, remote work, affordable housing, and property conversions. (DeBoer’s oral statement and written testimony)
  • DeBoer also emphasized the need for lawmakers to stimulate the production of affordable housing by converting obsolete buildings into housing, increasing the Low Income Housing Tax Credit volume caps, incentivizing local zoning and permitting reforms, increasing efficiency in the Section 8 housing voucher program, and more. (Roundtable Weekly, May 3)
  • Separately, The Roundtable and a broad real estate coalition submitted a set of specific policy recommendations last week to Congress detailing a host of pending legislative and regulatory actions that would help provide housing to more Americans. (Roundtable Weekly, May 3)

The Roundtable’s all-member Annual Meeting on June 20-21 in Washington, DC will include speakers and policy advisor committee meetings focused on many of these topics.

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Roundtable Testifies on Health of CRE Markets and Recommended Policies

House Oversight Committe hearing included testimony from Roundtable President and CEO Jeffrey DeBoer
Click to watch a compilation of select testimony by Roundtable President and CEO Jeffrey DeBoer

Roundtable President and CEO Jeffrey DeBoer testified this week before a House subcommittee on the “Health of the Commercial Real Estate Markets and Removing Regulatory Hurdles to Ensure Continued Strength.” (Videos of DeBoer’s testimony | Entire hearing | Select clips from the subcommittee’s wrap-up)

CRE Issues

  • The April 30 hearing before the House Oversight and Accountability Subcommittee on Health Care and Financial Services included The Roundtable’s views on market liquidity, the state of the office sector, remote work, affordable housing, and property conversions. (DeBoer’s oral statement and written testimony)
  • DeBoer emphasized that all stakeholders in the regulatory and private sectors should work together to ensure real estate continues to be a leading driver of the economy—and a primary way cities grow, business needs are met, and housing challenges are solved. (Transcript of entire hearing)
  • DeBoer also clarified, “The commercial real estate industry is not seeking a bailout of any sort.” (MarketWatch, April 30)
  • Subcommittee members heard testimony on how liquidity in CRE markets, particularly office, is an overriding industry concern. As nearly half the value of the $4.7 trillion property debt market is scheduled to mature by 2027, base interest rates have risen nearly 500 basis points in 24 months while lenders are considering reductions in their CRE portfolios. (RER’s written testimony and Mortgage Bankers Association testimony)
Real Estate Roundtable President and CEO Jeffrey DeBoer testifies before House Oversight Subcommittee on April 30, 2024
  • DeBoer urged policymakers and regulators to acknowledge that not all CRE is the same. “In the office market, there are notable differences. Some individual owners are facing considerable pressure, potentially leading to increases in mortgage defaults, foreclosures and large losses of equity. Many top-tier modern office buildings with strong ownership and workspace amenities are currently weathering the storm. There needs to be a better distinction and not a monolithic treatment of commercial real estate.”

Policy Solutions

  • The Roundtable’s policy recommendations submitted to the subcommittee address a wide swath of concerns for owners, lenders, and local communities, including:
  • Ensure federal employees return to the workplace. DeBoer testified, “The federal government should lead by example by highlighting the value of in-office work” as it is critical for the health of cities, local economies, tax bases, and small businesses. (GlobeSt, May 2)

    He also commended efforts by House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer (R-KY) to bring federal workers back as the lead sponsor of the Stopping Home Office Work’s Unproductive Problems (SHOW UP) Act (H.R. 139). “This bill passed the House over a year ago and should be enacted into law,” Deboer said. (Roundtable Weekly, Oct. 20 and Feb. 3, 2023)
House Oversight Subcommittee wide shot
  • Encourage banks and loan servicers to extend maturing loans and restructure maturing loans with new equity—effectively making “cash-in refinances”—by converting non-performing and criticized loans to new performing loans.
  • Encourage foreign capital investment in U.S. real estate by amending or repealing the outdated Foreign Investment in Real Property Tax Act (FIRPTA).
  • Reject pro-cyclical measures such as the Basel III Endgame and other regulatory measures that will restrict credit and capital formation.
  • Stimulate the production of affordable housing. The Roundtable and a broad real estate coalition submitted a set of specific policy recommendations this week to Congress detailing a host of pending legislative and regulatory actions that would help provide housing to more Americans.

  • DeBoer informed the subcommittee that these solutions include converting obsolete buildings into housing, increasing the Low Income Housing Tax Credit volume caps, incentivizing local zoning and permitting reforms, increasing efficiency in the Section 8 housing voucher program, and more. (see Affordable Housing story below)
Left to right: Real Estate Roundtable President and CEO Jeffrey DeBoer with House Oversight Subcommittee Ranking Member Katie Porter (D-CA) and Subcommittee Chairwoman Lisa McClain (R-MI)
House Oversight Subcommittee Chairwoman Lisa McClain (R-MI), right, and Ranking Member Katie Porter (D-CA), center, with Jeffrey DeBoer
  • He added, “Rent control and eviction moratoriums are on first blush appealing concepts, but they’ve proven time and again, that they’re counterproductive to addressing the housing shortfall.”
  • Congress should also enact a time-limited tax incentive to convert older, underutilized commercial buildings to housing that would help revitalize America’s cities, accelerate the economic recovery of office buildings, and create new supplies of housing in close proximity to jobs.

Property Conversions

  • Separately, The Roundtable provided a list of specific agency actions to accelerate property conversion projects in a recent letter to Jared Bernstein, Chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers. (Roundtable Weekly, April 19)
Doug Turner, Sr. Fellow, Housing,
Center for American Progress
  • Turner stated in his written testimony and oral comments, “I want to compliment The Real Estate Roundtable for a second. They sent a letter to the Council of Economic Advisers in April and offered some very specific suggestions on how to improve the conversion process. Many of these are sensible. And they could help direct what is an evolving policy. We haven’t seen an attempt to convert this much real estate in a short period of time.” (Video clip of Turner’s full comment, or click on photo above)

The Roundtable’s all-member Annual Meeting on June 20-21 in Washington, DC will include speakers and policy advisor committee meetings focused on many of the topics discussed during this week’s House hearing. 

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Roundtable Congressional Testimony on April 30 Will Focus on Policy Actions to Strengthen CRE Markets

Real Estate Roundtable President and CEO Jeffrey DeBoer

Real Estate Roundtable President and CEO Jeffrey DeBoer will testify next week before the House Oversight Subcommittee on Health Care and Financial Services about the “Health of the Commercial Real Estate Markets and Removing Regulatory Hurdles to Ensure Continued Strength.” (Watch hearing here at 2pm EST on Tuesday, April 30 | Update: Written testimony here)

CRE Market Conditions & Solutions

  • Subcommittee Chairwoman Lisa McClain (R-MI), commented on April 23 that the hearing will explore solutions to strengthen businesses that continue to struggle from the impact of pandemic-related government policies. She stated, “These businesses – including medical centers, warehouses, and offices – are crucial to our local economies and communities.” (McClain news release)
  • The other hearing witness will be Jeffrey Weidell (CEO, NorthMarq), chairman of the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Commercial Real Estate/Multifamily Finance Board of Governors. (MBA news release, Oct. 15, 2023)

The Roundtable’s all-member June 20-21 Annual Meeting will include a Joint Research Committee and Real Estate Capital Policy Advisory Committee Meeting to drill down on specific CRE capital and credit market trends and issues.

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Policymakers Aim to Pass $1.2 Trillion Budget, Avoid Shutdown

Lawmakers pushed a sprawling $1.2 trillion legislative package through Congress today that would avoid a government shutdown at midnight by funding more than half the government through Sept. 30. After the House passed the funding measure today, the Senate will likely approve the package and send it to President Biden for his signature. (Bloomberg and Forbes, March 22)

Minibus Faces Fiscal Cliff

  • If the Senate debate goes past the midnight “fiscal cliff,” the White House budget office can delay a shutdown order before Monday. Congress is aiming to pass the budget before departing Washington for their two-week Easter break. (Washington Post, March 20 and AP, March 22)
  • The 1,012-page, six-bill “minibus” (H.R. 2882) includes funding for the IRS, Pentagon, Department of Homeland Security, and foreign aid. Five and a half months after FY2024 began on Oct. 1, 2023, the government has operated on temporary funding extensions. (PBS, March 22)
  • The Congressional Budget Office listed a detailed breakdown of this week’s funding bundle on March 21. The other half of the government’s budget was enacted earlier this month under a two-tiered congressional agreement. (NBC News, March 9 and Roundtable Weekly, March 1)

House Republicans

  • Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) filed a motion (H. Res. 2203) to remove House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA), above, from his leadership post in protest over the legislation. Since the motion was filed but not brought up for a vote, no immediate action will be taken. “This is more of a warning than a pink slip,” she said. (Wall Street Journal, March 22)

Speaker Johnson’s House Republican caucus is about to drop to a one-vote majority, as retiring Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI) will exit the House as soon as next month. (Politico, March 22)

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President Biden’s FY2025 Budget Calls for $4.9 Trillion in Tax Increases

The Biden administration this week released its $7.3 trillion FY2025 budget request, which includes $4.9 trillion in tax increases and several tax proposals impacting capital gains. The Treasury Department also released its “Green Book,” which provides detailed descriptions of the budget’s tax proposals and associated revenue estimates. (White House budget and Treasury news release, March 11)

Capital Gains Focus

  • The White House’s annual budget represents the economic policy agenda of the Biden administration. While it is a wish list with no immediate impact, it sets a marker for upcoming debates on spending and fiscal priorities in Congress and throughout the upcoming election. This week’s budget document includes many of the same tax proposals in President Biden’s previous budgets and policies outlined during his State of the Union address last week. (Roundtable Weekly, March 8 and White House Fact Sheet on the Budget, March 11)
  • The FY2025 Green Book repeats the administration’s proposal to tax capital gains at ordinary income rates—nearly doubling the capital gains rate from 20% to 39.6%.  The budget would also increase the net investment income tax from 3.8% to 5% and extend the tax to all pass-through business income, effectively ending the exception for real estate professionals active in the business. As a result, the top combined tax rate on real estate capital gains and rental income would rise to 44.6%.
  • Other tax proposals in the budget would create a 25% minimum tax on the unrealized gains and income of individuals with more than $100 million in wealth, recapture depreciation deductions at ordinary income rates when real estate is sold, and raise the top personal income tax rate from 37% to 39.6% for those making more than $400,000. The president also proposes to raise the corporate tax rate from 21% to 28%. (The Hill, March 13)
  • Biden’s 2025 budget would largely eliminate the deferral of capital gain through like-kind exchanges (section 1031) and tax all carried interest as ordinary income. (White House Fact Sheet, March 11)

Tax Debates Begin

  • Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen will testify on the administration’s budget and tax proposals before the Senate Finance Committee March 21 and during an upcoming House Ways and Means Committee hearing.
  • The Green Book will serve as a reference for congressional Democrats who develop large-scale tax legislation for the next Congress in anticipation of the expiration of 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act provisions at the end of 2025.
  • As the FY2025 budget proposals spark a wide-ranging tax debate, a current $79 billion tax package—passed by the House and supported by The Roundtable—is pending in the Senate. (CQ News | Politico Pro | Tax Notes, March 15). Additional proposals in the budget impact housing policy—see story below.

Joint Employer Rule Struck

  • Separately, a federal court on March 8 blocked the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) final joint-employment standard rule. The decision from the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas addressed whether the expansive definition has the potential to expose broad swaths of employers to liability for labor law violations committed by contractors or franchisees. The court vacated the NLRB rule, stating the joint-employment standard interpretation is too broad. (Politico Weekly Shift, March 11, 2024 and Roundtable Weekly, Jan. 17, 2020)

As an appeal from NLRB is expected, employers should continue to comply with the current joint-employer rule adopted in 2020. (JD Supra, March 14)

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President Biden Proposes New Housing Incentives, Increased Taxes on Wealthy Individuals and Public Corporations

President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address last night included proposals to levy a 25 percent minimum tax on wealthy individuals, increase the corporate tax rate from 21 to 28 percent, and raise the alternative minimum tax on large corporations from 15 to 21 percent. He also called on Congress to pass legislation to support the construction or rehabilitation of more than 2 million homes and rolled out new tax incentives for homebuyers. (Biden’s Remarks | White House Fact Sheets on Taxes and Housing, March 7)

Proposed Tax Increases

  • Biden proposed to levy a 25 percent minimum tax on those with wealth of more than $100 million. He committed to not raising taxes on those making $400,000 or less while heavily criticizing the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) as a $2 trillion giveaway to high-income households and corporations. (Tax Policy Center | Forbes, March 8)
  • Most of the Biden tax agenda is carried over from his prior budgets and includes provisions that he was unable to pass when Democrats controlled both chambers of Congress. While not detailed in his speech, the White House’s upcoming 2025 budget could include past proposals to raise taxes on real estate like-kind exchanges and carried interest income. (Roundtable Weekly, March 10, 2023)
  • Many provisions from the 2017 tax bill will expire at the end of 2025, including the 20 percent deduction for pass-through business income, the cap on the deductibility of state and local taxes, and the reduction in the top individual tax rate from 39.6 to 37 percent. The approaching expiration of the individual provisions creates a tax “cliff” that is likely to drive tax negotiations next year.

Housing Plan

Real Estate coalition  response to President Biden's SOTU housing proposals.
Real estate coalition response to President Biden’s SOTU housing proposals.
  • The White House’s Fact Sheet on housing describes the administration’s plans to establish new tax credits for first-time homebuyers and individuals who sell their starter homes. The tax credit for home sellers seeks to address the “lock-in” effect associated with current high interest rates.The president would also increase spending on affordable housing by Federal Home Loan Banks. (PoliticoPro and White House Fact Sheet on Housing, March 7)
  • The White House Fact Sheet also includes an expansion of the low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) to support an additional 1.2 million affordable rental units and a new Neighborhood Homes Tax Credit to encourage the construction or preservation of over 400,000 affordable, owner-occupied homes. Bipartisan legislation to expand LIHTC passed the House in January and is pending in the Senate.
  • The National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC) and nine industry groups responded to the negative aspects of Biden’s housing plan. A coalition letter explained how proposals to limit fee for service arrangements would hurt renters by undermining the administration’s objectives of lowering housing costs, driving new housing development, and creating more affordable rental housing. President Biden has also supported Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission investigations into rental rate fixing—investigations that many in the industry believe are highly questionable. (NMHC statement and real estate coalition letter, March 7)

Funding Watch

  • After the House passed a spending package this week to fund several federal agencies through September, the Senate has until midnight tonight to pass the bill and avoid a partial government shutdown.
  • Approval from all 100 senators is necessary to fast track the process. The consideration of multiple amendments could delay a final vote until Saturday, necessitating a temporary funding extension to avoid disruption and get the final bill to President Biden for his signature. (The Hill, March 8)

The next government funding deadline is March 22, which requires a new spending package to fund the Pentagon, Health and Human Services, Labor, and other agencies. Policymakers agreed on this two-tiered stopgap funding plan (March 8 and 22) to buy time to negotiate a full-year appropriations bill. (Roundtable Weekly, March 1)

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Congress Punts Funding Deadlines … SEC to Vote March 6 on Climate Disclosures … Roundtable Urges EB-5 Guidance Correction

A bill passed by both chambers of Congress yesterday and signed by President Biden today punts a set of government funding deadlines to March 8 and 22, thereby preventing a partial government shutdown that was scheduled to start at midnight. (ABC News, March 1 | House bill text)

New Stopgap Goals

  • The new two-tiered stopgap bill gives policymakers some time to negotiate a full-year appropriations bill as a House-passed tax package is under consideration in the Senate. (See tax story below).
  • On Wednesday, congressional leaders announced the deal, which extends funding for the departments of Housing and Urban Development, Commerce, Energy, Transportation, and others from March 1 through March 8. The bill also extends funding for the Pentagon, Health and Human Services, Labor, and other agencies from March 8 through March 22.

SEC to Vote March 6 on Climate Rule

  • The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced a vote next week on whether it will adopt final rules requiring companies to provide certain climate-related information in their registration statements and annual reports.
  • The SEC’s “open meeting” to consider the climate rule will take place on Wednesday, March 6 at 9:45 am and will be webcast at www.sec.gov.

Roundtable Urges Congress to Correct EB-5 Guidance

  • The Real Estate Roundtable urged the leaders of the Senate and House Judiciary Committees this week to correct defective “guidance” enacted by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that is undermining the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act of 2022 (RIA). [Roundtable EB-5 letter, Feb. 28, 2024]
  • The USCIS’s arbitrary guidance states that EB-5 investments made after RIA’s enactment must “remain invested for at least two years.” This position contradicts regulations kept by USCIS on its rulebooks for decades.
  • RER’s letter also explains that USCIS’s defective guidance exacerbates CRE’s current liquidity issues. For example, the agency’s position effectively eliminates the availability of EB-5 investment capital to help finance projects to convert underutilized commercial buildings to multifamily housing.  

The Roundtable is calling on Congress to correct the error with a short statutory change that codifies the long-standing regulatory approach, which couples the periods for EB-5 capital sustainment and conditional residency.

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Government Shutdown Looms … Coalition Supports YIMBY Bill … SEC Scope 3 Emissions Rule

Congress returns next week to address an imminent government shutdown. Unless the House and Senate pass a long-term budget or short-term stopgap by March 1, 20 percent of funding for the current fiscal year will expire – with remaining federal operations potentially ceasing on March 8.  (Forbes | (Politico, Feb. 21)

Funding Negotiations

  • Policy riders on issues such as abortion, gender-affirming care, and medical research remain contentious issues.
  • Axios reported this week that House Republicans expect some version of a shutdown before passing a new funding bill. Congress has approved three continuing resolutions since Sept. 30 to keep the government open with current funding in place, as a full budget for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30 remains elusive. (Committee for a Responsible Budget, Feb. 13)
  • Congress must also take into account a key date of April 30, when a 1 percent cut in all federal funding (including Pentagon programs) will take effect without passage of fiscal legislation. (Federal News Network, Dec. 26, 2023)

Pending Tax Package

House Ways and Means Committee Chair Jason Smith [R-MO]
  • A bipartisan $79 billion tax package that was overwhelmingly approved by the House on Jan. 31faces potential hurdles in the Senate. The bill contains Roundtable-supported measures on business interest deductibility, bonus depreciation, and the low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC). (Roundtable Weekly, Feb. 2 and Jan. 19)
  • Leading congressional tax writers are considering adding the House-passed tax package to a potential spending bill. House Ways and Means Committee Chair Jason Smith [R-MO] recently told Axios that he is meeting with Republican senators to pass the limited tax extenders package as a prelude to next year’s effort on whether to extend tax cuts passed in 2017 as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. (TaxNotes Talk podcast, Feb. 21)
  • Smith commented, “For one it breaks the dam. There has not been any kind of even a small extenders package passed in three years and let alone in divided government. And so 2025 is the Super Bowl of tax.” (Axios, Feb. 16)

“Yes in My Backyard” Coalition

The Yes In My Backyard (YIMBY) Act -- H.R. 3507
  • This week, The Real Estate Roundtable and 21 other national organizations expressed their strong support for the bipartisan Yes in My Backyard Act (YIMBY) in their latest letter to the House Financial Services Committee (Coalition letter, Feb. 20)
  • H.R. 3057, introduced by Congressmen Mike Flood (R-NE) and Derek Kilmer (D-WA), would help promote development of affordable housing by requiring local governments that receive certain federal grants to report on their practices to support high-density development.
  • Separately, the Wall Street Journal (Feb. 20) highlighted that community opposition to new projects is not just restricted to housing developments. E-Commerce hubs are also “increasingly contending with a headache” of NIMBY sentiments, as developers of warehouse and logistics properties face the conundrum of siting projects that are necessary to deliver goods to residents and consumers.     

SEC & Scope 3 Disclosure

The SEC must still vote on the final regulation before its release. Progressive Democrats in Congress will likely object to any rule that relieves registered companies from Scope 3 reporting.

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Congress Extends Government Funding Until March, House Ways & Means Approves Tax Package with LIHTC and Business Provisions

President Biden signed legislation today that averts a partial federal government shutdown by extending federal funding to March 1 and 8. The stopgap, passed by Congress yesterday, gives policymakers limited time to negotiate 12 additional bills at an agreed-upon $1.59 trillion limit to fund the government through the end of its fiscal year on Sept. 30. (Associated Press, Jan. 19 | (Politico and The Hill, Jan. 18)

Stopgap Funding

  • Today’s stopgap is the third “continuing resolution” Congress has cleared since the start of the current fiscal year on Oct. 1. Intense opposition from members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus led Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) to reach an agreement with Democrats to support the measure. (Wall Street Journal, Jan. 18)
  • A similar short-term spending bill last October led to the ouster of former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) by House conservatives. (Wall Street Journal, Jan. 8)

Bipartisan Tax Package Advances

House Ways and Means Committee
  • Provisions in the tax bill affecting real estate include:

    • Low-Income Housing Tax Credit
      A Roundtable-supported three-year extension (2023–2025) of the 12.5 percent increase in LIHTC allocations to states. Even more importantly, the agreement reforms LIHTC’s tax-exempt bond financing requirement, which will allow more affordable housing projects to receive LIHTC allocations outside of the state cap, and without requiring projects be financed with 50% tax-exempt bonds.
       
    • Business Interest Deductibility
      A retroactive, four-year extension (2022–2025) of the taxpayer-favorable EBITDA standard for measuring the amount of business interest deductible under section 163(j). The changes do not alter the exception to the interest limitation that applies to interest attributable to a real estate business.

    • Bonus Depreciation 
      Extension of 100 percent bonus depreciation through the end of 2025. As under current law, leasehold and other qualifying interior improvements are eligible for bonus depreciation. In 2026, bonus depreciation would fall to 20 percent and expire altogether after 2026.  

  • Other provisions in the agreement include reforms to the child tax credit, the expensing of R&D costs, disaster tax relief, a double-taxation tax agreement with Taiwan, and a large pay-for that creates significant new penalties for abuse of the employee retention tax credit (ERTC) rules and accelerates the expiration of the ERTC.

Sen. Wyden and senior congressional staff will discuss tax legislation with Roundtable members during The Roundtable’s all-member 2024 State of the Industry Meeting in Washington next week.

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Congress Struggles to Assemble Stopgap Funding Measure as Policymakers Negotiate Elements of Potential Tax Package

House and Senate lawmakers are discussing a short-term stopgap measure aimed at avoiding government shutdown deadlines on Jan. 19 and Feb. 2, which would also buy time to negotiate additional funding through the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30. Meanwhile, with tax filing season slated to begin Jan. 29, congressional tax writers reported making progress this week on a potential tax package that includes measures on business interest deductibility, bonus depreciation, and the child tax credit. (CQ | PoliticoPro | TaxNotes, Jan. 11)

Funding Challenge

  • Sen. John Thune (R-SD), the second-ranking Republican in the Senate, said on Tuesday that a stopgap bill with funding until March might be necessary. “What that looks like next week, and where it originates, House or Senate, remains to be seen.” Thune said. (Roll Call, Jan. 9 and PunchBowl News, Jan. 10)
  • Sen. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) announced yesterday that the Senate will consider a “continuing resolution” to keep the government open. “A shutdown is looming over us, starting on Jan. 19, about a week away. Unfortunately, it has become crystal clear that it will take more than a week to finish the appropriations process.” (CBS News and CQ, Jan. 11)
  • In the House, Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) is struggling to obtain the approval of conservative Republicans on a spending agreement announced on Sunday for a $1.66 trillion spending plan for the federal government. (The Hill, Jan. 11 and AP, Jan. 8))
  • Republicans currently hold a 220-seat majority in the House while Democrats control 213, which means Johnson can afford to lose only three votes in his caucus for the GOP to pass legislation in the lower chamber by party-line vote. (AP, Jan 11 | CNN, Jan. 9 | AlterNet, Jan. 2)

Tax Package Negotiations

  • On Wednesday, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jason Smith (R-MO), above, presented their members with an outline of a potential, three-year $70 billion tax package. 
  • Disagreements continue over the scope of a potential child tax credit and low-income housing tax credit in exchange for partial restorations of business tax credits such as business interest deductibility and bonus depreciation. (MarketWatch and PunchBowl, Jan. 11 | PoliticoPro and Wall Street Journal, Jan. 10)
  • Issues that remain under consideration include a Roundtable-supported expansion of the low-income housing tax credit and the deductibility of state and local taxes (SALT). Sen. Wyden and senior congressional staff will discuss tax legislation with Roundtable members during The Roundtable’s all-member 2024 State of the Industry Meeting on Jan. 23-24.

Preview of Coming Tax Battles

PWC 2024 Tax Policy Outlook figure 8
  • Current discussions among congressional tax negotiators are a precursor for a much larger challenge next year, when 23 different provisions in the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) will change or expire at the end of 2025, including the deduction for pass-through business income and the cap on the SALT deduction. (Roundtable Weekly, May 26)
  • PWC emphasized the stakes in next year’s tax negotiations in its “2024 Tax Policy Outlook” released yesterday. PwC’s National Tax Services Co-Leader Rohit Kumar told PoliticoPro that the current tax package under consideration would amount to only a “rounding error” when compared to the value of all the TCJA provisions. Today’s Wall Street Journal estimated there are $6 trillion in taxes at stake in this year’s elections.
  • Policymakers’ efforts to pass government funding and negotiate a tax package come as office vacancies hit a record high in the fourth quarter of last year, according to a Moody’s Analytics released Jan. 8.

The Moody’s report shows the national office vacancy rate rose 40 bps to a record-breaking 19.6 percent. The new record shatters the previous rate of 19.3% set twice previously—and reflects changing trends in business needs and the recent shift towards in remote work arrangements. (Wall Street Journal and ConnectCRE, Jan. 8)

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